NEW BEDFORD — Hospitals in Bristol County swelled with COVID-19 patients this week as cases in New Bedford surged Thanksgiving week and remained high the following week. 

There were 449 new COVID-19 cases reported in New Bedford during the week ending Wednesday, Dec. 1 and 585 the week before. 

Children and teens account for a higher portion of cases than earlier in the pandemic, public health statistics show. There were 68 new cases among students and staff in the New Bedford Public School District during Thanksgiving week, and 88 cases so far this week.

According to the daily hospital census, on Dec. 1, 137 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across five Bristol County hospitals, and 17 of them were in intensive care unit beds. The most recent data on hospital capacity shows 87.6% of beds occupied at Southcoast Health’s facilities, the highest number yet this fall. ICU beds were 96.4% occupied.

The average daily incidence of COVID-19 is still climbing in New Bedford. Just before Thanksgiving, it jumped to 53.2 cases per 100,000, and then rose again to 55.4 during the most recent 14-day reporting period from Nov. 14 to Nov. 27. 

Of a total population of roughly 100,000 in New Bedford, 52,117 are fully vaccinated. In the last two weeks, the city’s fully vaccinated population grew by 783, bringing the vaccination rate to 52.1% as of Nov. 30. New Bedford still lags behind the county and state vaccination rates.

So far in the rollout of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine, 733 children ages 5-11 have received their first dose in New Bedford — 8.4% of the population in this age group. New Bedford has vaccinated fewer eligible children than 96% of towns and cities in Massachusetts.

As vaccination increases, the Massachusetts Department of Health is winding down the Community Tracing Collaborative. CTC stopped taking referrals on Nov. 30 and will close completely at the end of the calendar year. With cases rising across the state, DPH instructed local boards of health to begin concentrating resources on the greatest areas of need with maximum efficiency.

Email Abigail Nehring at

14-day average daily incidence rate per 100,000

City/TownRate for Nov. 7-20Rate for Nov. 14-27
Fall River43.651.7
New Bedford53.255.4
North Attleborough28.735.6
LEARN MORE: Find the latest COVID-19 statistics for the New Bedford area in our COVID dashboard.

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